In the Spotlight : Rachel Hardage

I was lucky enough to meet Rachel years ago via a mutual friend of ours when she was living in NYC. We’re both TN girls, so we hit it off immediately. She selected our very own Megan and Mihir for Real Simple Weddings in 2010, which was such an honor. Since then, we’ve cocktailed, she’s run marathons, I’ve had a baby, she’s gotten engaged (to be married in Charleston this Fall!), she’s moved to B’ham . . . you know how life is! But what remains the same is that she is refreshingly funny, charming, savvy, and sweet- all at the same time. Plus, love that she could find a few minutes to share with us no our blog. And- she’s marrying this very cool man who also happens to be a stand-up comedian. Think their marriage will be full of laughter? Duh. Read on for more below . . . and enjoy.

A bit about you, your business, your inherent you-ness:
RH: After more than a decade working in magazines in NYC (Glamour, Real Simple), I’m now a little closer to my Tennessee roots—and much better BBQ—in Birmingham as Executive Editor of Southern Living.

I’m most at home when I’m  . . . .
RH: Drinking a glass of Pinot Noir—or, if I’m in a beer mood, an IPA—on my couch with my fiancé while forcing him to watch House Hunters International. That, or tailgating before a football game in Knoxville—love me a sunny fall Saturday at Calhoun’s on the Tennessee River.

{Rachel loves the styling of Cannelle et Vanille . . . who wouldn’t?}

What’s one name that if it came across your Inbox, you’d wig out?
RH: I’d love to get a story pitch from Calvin Trillin. He’s a fabulous food and travel writer and if you want a short-yet-incredibly-moving introduction to his work, start here.

What’s one of your favorite blogs, or what interesting blog is in your RSS feed?
RH: Dinner A Love Story. I don’t have kids, but I’m obsessed with this blog by Jenny Rosenstrach, a former co-worker at Real Simple. She has great kid-friendly recipes that please my grown-up palate and inspiring, creative ideas beyond what’s on the plate. (Don’t miss “The Recipe Door” in her kitchen.)
Other often-visits for ideas and inspiration: The Neo-Trad, Oh So Beautiful Paper, Cup of Jo, Hip Hip Hooray, The Indigo Bunting.

{Rachel saw this image from Juliet Elizabeth and knew then and there she’d be married at Legare-Waring House, here in Chucktown.}

What do you think about the styling trend in the wedding industry . . . the mock shoots, the faux weddings, the propped-out gigs that mimic wedding magazine editorials?
RH: To be honest, I don’t love it. I mean, I love seeing someone’s creativity come to life and there are some really great ideas that come out of those shoots, but what’s missing from so many of those shoots is, well, life. As editor of Real Simple Weddings, I started seeing so many real wedding submissions where you felt as if the bride was trying to out-style all of the other brides—almost as if she planned her wedding around how it would look on a blog or in print, and not how it would make her (and her guests) feel. And I think some of the over-the-top faux weddings you see online have contributed to this propped-out, run-nonstop-with-a-theme trend. I think good styling should be less in-your-face and more organic than some of those photo shoots suggest. I mean, c’mon: The bride may like apples but she doesn’t need to force her bridesmaids to carry baskets of Granny Smiths down the aisle while guests sip on cider and the flower girls nibble on their candy apple bouquets as they scatter apple seeds down the aisle.

{my internal note: I spit Diet Coke all over my laptop when I read this- thanks Rachel for the keyboard replacement?! Ha!}

{Rachel loves how French artist Sandrine Estrade Boulet turns everyday environments into quirky, can’t-help-but-crack-a-smile situations. See more here.}

Teach us one random bit of industry jargon from publishing world.
RH: TK means “information to come,” as in “I’ll fill in this missing detail later.” However, at Southern Living TK also stands for Test Kitchen, as in “We’ll be tasting recipes this afternoon in the TK.” For the first week or so, I kept thinking, “Can’t you people decide on a room already?”

Hollywood calls and they’re going to make a movie of your life. What’s your opening musical score (or the top hit on the soundtrack?)

RH:  I’d love to say something cool and indie, but every time “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits comes on my iPod, it puts me in a good mood—love that opening organ music. Someday, I want the organist at a church wedding to transition into that song as the couple walks down the aisle after the ceremony. “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine would probably be a good one, although I have no idea what the lyrics are so don’t read too much into that pick! Somewhat-unrelated, but here’s another good music tip: If you run your errands while listening to the Amelie soundtrack, your life will feel five times as fabulous in a I-just-put-a-farmer’s-market-baguette-in-my-adorable-bike-basket kind of way.

{Rachel says: “I couldn’t help but print this out a while back when it made the rounds. It’s a funny reminder that every thing you do is a reflection of your style. I also have a feeling I’d like the person who felt the need to tack up the second flyer.” via Passive Aggressive Notes}

You’re up against your next issues’s deadline, and you’re pulling an all-nighter. What’s your vice or fix?
RH: Some sort of coffee—if it’s really late, I’d probably just cave in and order one of those ridiculous, drink-my-feelings calorie-laden options. And a handful of Reese’s Pieces wouldn’t hurt.

What’s one (fun/weird/crazy) thing we wouldn’t know about you?
I used to be a part-time hip-hop deejay in Manhattan with a friend of mine, despite the fact that we had absolutely no idea how to turn up the bass.

{After more than a decade of paying exorbitant rent in NYC, she’s just closed on her first sweet Alabama home. “I particularly love this kitchen, with the gray walls, the chandelier, the vintage tins, the turquoise fridge…and a freakin’ peacock!” via Bjorn Wallander}

What is one un-glam thing about what you do . . .
RH: Where do I start? It’s a toss-up between deliberating for an hour about the headline on a pound cake story (Pound Perfection? Pounds All Around? Perfect Pound Cakes? Blessedly Buttery?) and staring at random household items (colanders, cheese graters, tennis balls) while trying to dream up clever new ways to put them to use.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your business?
RH: Being surrounded by inspiring, creative people and having the opportunity to showcase the fascinating people and stories and places across our region.




  1. crissy

    Loved this read – she’s genuinely clever, so refreshing! Hands down hysterical was “The bride may like apples…” comment. I am going back up to read it and giggle again! That and the photo of the fonts… I am stealing it and sending it to many many friends who will appreciate it too.

  2. crissy

    Loved this read – Rachel’s genuinely clever, so refreshing! Hands down hysterical was “The bride may like apples…” comment. I am going back up to read it and giggle again! That and the photo of the fonts… I am stealing it and sending it to many many friends who will appreciate it too.